Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Sad, Strange History of “Degenerate Art”

“Crazy at any price!” read a sign above the modern art masterpieces at the Nazi-sponsored Entartete Kunst (“Degenerate Art,” in English) exhibition in Munich, Germany, in 1937. The fevered brainchild of art-obsessed Adolf Hitler, Entartete Kunst aimed at showing not only what “Jewish” and “Bolshevik” art looked like, but also arguing how the degeneracy of those artists and their work threatened the spiritual health of the German people, the “master race” Hitler believed would rule the world, with him as their leader. The Neue Galerie in New York City revisits that sad moment in modern art history with the exhibition Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937, which runs through June 30, 2014. The exhibition gathers together many of the “crazy” works labeled as degenerate, holds them up against examples of the Hitler-approved German art, and takes us down the long, strange road that led up to that Munich show. The result is a sad, strange history that will leave you shaking your head at the past, but will also make you wonder if it could happen, again, here and now. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "The Sad, Strange History of 'Degenerate Art.'"

1 comment:

Hels said...

I am glad The Neue Galerie in New York City is showing an exhibition called Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937. In lectures and conferences I always come back to the same question.. why did people who were so passionate about art (eg Hitler and Goebbels) go to such expensive ends to clear out the rubbish art and take it to 14 cities. They had to pay for gallery rent, curators, moving vans, publicity etc etc.

Peter Paret believed the general anxiety in Germany about the future of moral, physical and intellectual strength fostered the myth about a culturally distinctive and racially pure Volk. Many late C19th artists saw alien elements infiltrating German art, especially those of the French avant-garde. The Nazis therefore created nothing new in their identification of Degenerate, Alien Art.